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Your New York Special Needs Planning Attorney

Whether your loved one with special needs developed a disability as an adult or child, we can help your family. This is the mission of our New York disability lawyers practicing special needs planning. At Russo Law Group, P.C., we work to advocate for your loved one throughout their life: from ongoing decision-making (guardianship) and applying for Supplemental Security Income and New York Medicaid to setting up special needs trusts. We can even act as trustee for your child’s assets after your death if you need us.

How do I make sure my child with special needs (disabilities) will be taken care of when I’m gone? Will government programs continue or be disrupted when I die?

Government programs have stringent eligibility requirements – some health-related and some financial. We explain some of these programs in the questions below. We’ll help you and your child take the steps needed to obtain these benefits and help your loved one hold onto them through proper special needs planning. Many of our clients have been told by other advisors that they weren’t eligible for a program. Through thoughtful planning, we were able to get these important benefits in place and provide the family with peace of mind.

What government benefits are available for Individuals with Special Needs?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was created to ensure that the elderly, blind, and disabled have a guaranteed minimum monthly income for living expenses. The amount paid is a combination of federal and state dollars, and there is a formula to determine the amount, depending on other available income sources. Though it’s administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), eligibility is based only on financial need. And, unlike Social Security Retirement Benefits or Medicare, payments are not dependent on any amount previously paid into the Social Security system.

People who qualify for SSI usually also qualify for Medicaid in New York, a government program that covers many healthcare costs.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to those unable to work according to a very strict Social Security definition of disability. Benefits continue until the beneficiary can work again or reaches retirement age (in which case disability benefits become retirement benefits). Unlike SSI, you must have paid Social Security payroll taxes to collect SSDI benefits. Eligibility and benefit amounts depend on age and the number of accumulated work credits.

In New York, after two years of SSDI benefits, the beneficiary automatically becomes eligible to receive Medicare, even if they’re under age 65. Certain family members may also qualify for disability benefits, such as children of a covered worker. We can help you sort through the maze of government rules to determine what your loved one with a disability is entitled to receive.

What are Special Needs Trusts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City, NY?

special needs trust is created to supplement the income of a person with disabilities to pay for wants and needs not covered by government benefits.

If there are proceeds from a personal injury or medical malpractice settlement or judgment, then the special needs trust can be a lifesaver. The proceeds can be protected for the injured party while maintaining access to Medicaid, if necessary, to pay for the high cost of extended long-term care in New York.

The New York Special Needs Trust Difference

In many states, the terms special needs trust and supplemental needs trust are used interchangeably. However, in New York, a special needs trust specifically refers to a trust set up for a person with disabilities who already has their own assets. A supplemental needs trust is set up for a person with disabilities by a third party, such as a parent.

In either case, it’s extremely important to make sure the trust meets the requirements of the government program(s) and benefits the person with disabilities currently receives or is seeking. If the trust doesn’t comply with these requirements, the person with special needs (called the trust beneficiary) could lose their government benefits.

What is a Supplemental Needs Trust in New York?

A supplemental needs trust can only be created for a person under the age of 65 and can’t be created by the person it will benefit. The trust usually covers things like education, clothing, recreation, and medical care not covered by Medicaid, etc. Because the assets were never owned directly by the person, a beneficiary of a supplemental needs trust can still receive benefits from government programs.

The Difference Between a Special Needs Trust and a Pooled Trust

Two forms of trusts allow someone to qualify for Medicaid and SSI: special needs trusts (sometimes referred to as payback trusts or d4a trusts) and pooled trusts (sometimes referred to as d4c trusts).

Special Needs Trust in New York

special needs trust (payback trust or d4a trust) must be created by an individual/beneficiary, parent, grandparent, or legal guardian for a disabled person under age 65. Any money that remains in the fund after the beneficiary’s death must be used to reimburse (or pay back) Medicaid.

Pooled Trust in New York

A pooled trust (d4c trust) is administered by a non-profit organization with the assets of the disabled person held in a separate account for their benefit. Depending on the terms of the trust, the remaining account balance on the person’s death may pass to the charity or must first be used to pay back Medicaid.

Our Nassau County and Suffolk County law firm can outline the pros and cons of these two different types of trusts and advise you on which one is best for you.

Russo Law Group, P.C. helps you and your loved ones handle estate planning, elder law, special needs planning, Medicaid planning, trust & estate, guardianship, small business planning, and real estate law. We welcome you to contact our Garden City, Lido Beach, or Islandia, New York law offices to learn more about how we can help address your special needs planning legal matters. We can also visit your home and offer virtual meetings for convenience.

If you have questions or concerns about special needs planning issues in Long Island and New York City communities, please don’t hesitate to contact the special needs planning attorneys with Russo Law Group, P.C.

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